A Los Angeles elected official blamed Toyota for the increase in catalytic converter thefts in the area during a recent town hall meeting.
After the Los Angeles City Council made it illegal to own a detached catalytic converter without verification of legal possession in an 8–4 vote on April 11 to deter thieves, Los Angeles Councilwoman Nithya Raman—one of the opposing votes—said during a town hall that Toyota is largely responsible for the thefts of converters from Priuses, which are the most common vehicles targeted by thieves in the area.
“One of the things that infuriate me is we have a company, Toyota, who makes the Prius, which essentially has a device on their cars that is super easy to remove,” Raman said. “It’s basically the value of a Macbook.”
Raman continued by saying the catalytic converters are “put in a place that is incredibly easy to access in your car, and the ... costs are given to us to bear instead of them [Toyota] having to manufacture a car that actually is not so easy to be stolen [from].”
In response to Raman’s comments, a spokesperson for Toyota told The Epoch Times in a statement that minimizing such theft “requires close collaboration between the broader automotive industry and local and state authorities to devise solutions aimed at eliminating the market for these stolen parts.”
According to Councilman John Lee—who introduced the now approved catalytic converter motion—in 2022, Los Angeles experienced a 728 percent surge in the theft of catalytic converter components—with nearly 8,000 reported stolen—marking a significant rise over the last few years.
And a study by State Farm, published in October, found that California has the highest incidence of such thefts in the country, with 30 percent occurring in the Golden State.
Lawmakers in California have recently passed legislation to tackle the issue.
The recently passed Assembly Bill 1740, which took effect on Jan. 1, builds upon existing legislation by requiring core recyclers to maintain detailed records when purchasing valuable parts—particularly catalytic converters—including information such as identification numbers, payment amounts, and quantities bought.
Additionally, Senate Bill 1087—passed last September—mandates that recyclers can only purchase catalytic converters from specific authorized sellers, such as auto repair dealers.
Other states are also taking measures to combat catalytic converter theft. For instance, Oregon enacted a similar law in January, mandating the documentation of sales or disposal transactions involving catalytic converters as well.
Across the United States, such thefts have increased by 325 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.